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April 27, 2024

How to Navigate Insurance Claims After an Accident

Understanding the process and knowing what steps to take while navigating insurance claims after an accident can significantly affect the outcome of your claim and the speed with which you recover compensation.

Immediate Steps Following the Accident

Safety: Ensure the safety of all parties involved. Move to a safe location if possible and call emergency services for medical assistance and to report the accident.

Document the Scene: Take photographs of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, any visible damage, road conditions, traffic signs, and any injuries. Collect names, contact information, and insurance details of all parties involved, as well as contact information for witnesses.

File a Police Report: A police report is crucial as it provides an official account of the accident, which can be vital for your insurance claim.

Contact an attorney: Navigating the aftermath of an accident is stressful, and dealing with insurance adjusters can add another layer of complexity. It is best to hire a lawyer to discuss the value of the claim and negotiate with the insurance company.

Initiating the Insurance Claim

Understand Your Coverage: Review your insurance policy to understand the coverages you have, including liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Knowing what your policy covers will help set your expectations for what expenses might be covered.

Claim Number and Insurance Adjuster: Once you file a claim, you will be given a claim number and assigned an insurance adjuster. This person will be your point of contact with the insurance company and will evaluate the damages to determine the amount of your claim.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

We never recommend speaking to the at fault driver’s insurance company or any of its adjusters. Often, when people do this, they make unintended admissions that are harmful to their case. Additionally, often times, insurance companies will lowball unrepresented individuals with settlement numbers. Because of these and other issues, we recommend you contact an attorney to speak with the adjuster and help with the process.

Negotiating the Settlement

As your attorney, Pleban & Associates will first attempt to obtain a settlement for you. This is not a quick process. First, we will want to understand your injuries. Typically, this means we wait to do anything of substance until you have healed, reached maximum medical improvement or have an understanding of the future treatment needed. Next, we collect medical records. This typically takes 30 or more days. From there, we prepare a demand. Typically, the insurance carrier will have 30 days or more to respond.

Often, the plaintiff and carrier cannot agree on a number. If that is the case, the next step is filing a lawsuit.

Finalizing the Claim If It Settles

Written Agreement: Once you agree on a settlement amount, we will draft a written agreement that outlines the terms of the settlement.

Understand the Release: Signing a release typically means you agree not to pursue any further claims related to the accident against the insurer or the insured party.

Settlement Check: After the settlement agreement is signed, the insurance company will send a settlement check.

Key Considerations

Statute of Limitations: Be aware of the statute of limitations in your state for filing a claim or lawsuit related to the car accident.

Mitigating Costs: Keep records of all expenses and take reasonable steps to mitigate additional costs related to the accident, as insurers will not cover unnecessary expenses.

Privacy: Do not share details of the accident or your recovery on social media, as insurance companies may use this information to dispute your claim.

Navigating insurance claims after a car accident requires patience, diligence, and a clear understanding of your rights and obligations. By following these steps and seeking professional advice when necessary, you can ensure a fair resolution to your claim and focus on your recovery.

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